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More than Hay

The Hay festival in Cartagena, Colombia took place a few weeks ago (25-28 January) and I’m sick with envy. I’ve long been wanting to go, maybe next year will be the year? The Hay Festival, Britain’s most famous literary festival once described by Bill Clinton as the Woodstock of the Mind, is a lot more than a week in Hay-on-Wye in Wales at the end of May, although that’s where it all started.

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Costa Prize winners 2017

The winner of the Costa Prize Book of the Year 2017 was announced yesterday. The poet Helen Dunmore received the prize posthumously for her poetry collection Inside the Wave, a collection of poems written during Dunmore’s battle with cancer. She died in June of last year, 64 years old. The poems, which are guaranteed to leave a lump in your throat, are ‘concerned with the borderline between life and death’. And if that doesn’t do it, listening her daughter talk about her poems on BBC Radio 4 this week certainly will, unless you have a heart of stone.

‘To be alive is to be inside the wave, always travelling until it breaks and is gone’

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Books for Christmas

Finding beautiful books to give as presents used to be tricky. Not any longer. The arrival of e-books seemed to have propelled publishers into spending more thought and money on striking book covers. So walking into a well-stocked bookstore these days is no longer only a treat for your mind but a feast for your eyes as well. The bookshops are brimming with temptations: colourful, intelligent, artistic even tactile book covers. Combine that with some clever content and you’re in gift heaven. If there ever was a place you could kill off that Christmas shopping list with one stab, it’s in a bookshop.

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Chilling tales…

What better way to spend a dark October evening than reading a spine-chilling ghost story? Or even reading one aloud to your family? Many of them are short so you don’t need to scare yourself for days on end. We have selected our favourites and, if you want to freak out your children too, we have some for them as well…

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The Ultimate Travel Reading List

In 2012, London-based writer Ann Morgan set out to read a book from every country in the world in a year. Pretty ambitious when you know there are 196 of them. She asked people to send her recommendations and the list she compiled is an extraordinary overview of literature from around the world.

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What are you reading over Easter?

Books are piling up next to my suitcase as the Easter holiday approaches. My ever ambitious holiday reading plans rarely match reality but, hey, as long as I have space in my suitcase…

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Man Booker International Prize 2017 Long-List

My favourite book award, The Man Booker International Prize, announced their long-list today and it is, as usual, an incredibly diverse list, geographically and thematically. We have books from Iceland to China, Argentina to Albania. I remember loving Albanian Ismail Kadare’s psychological thriller The Successor when it came out 10 years ago, so I’ll start with his new book The Traitor’s Niche. A pretty dark book by the sounds of it telling the story of a courtier in the Ottoman Empire responsible for transporting the severed heads of the Sultan’s enemies. Nice to see Roy Jacobsen, one of Norway’s most revered authors, on the list, although The Unseen is not considered to be his best, that accolade goes to Child Wonder. I was disappointed that The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis didn’t make it.  Wonder why… In any case, there’s plenty to choose from here. Which one would you like to read?

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